Coming hot on the heels of Infogrames spectacular V-Rally, Top Gear Pocket aims to be the best driving game on the Game Boy Color. Like that other rally game, Top Gear Pocket started life in the console scene before being given the handheld treatment. Of course, the 64-bit visuals and sound on the original have been exchanged for 8-bit 3D graphics and screeching noises, but there's no reason why the gameplay can't still be present. With these thoughts in mind, we inserted the Top Gear Pocket cartridge firmly into the GB, and turned the power on. To call Top Gear Pocket a disappointment might be too damning, but after all the hype, it is a let-down - especially when (and we hate to say it) it's compared to V-Rally.
Let's start with the tracks. Initially, three of them are initially in championship mode (time attack is also available): grassland, desert, and jungle. We should point out that none of these environments really affects the gameplay, which smells slightly of a wasted opportunity. While the 3D effect is pleasing enough (and stays quite smooth even when displaying jumps and dips), the track layouts are an exercise in bland. Huge expanses of straights with the occasional corner or jump is what qualifies as course design in Top Gear Pocket, and for the most part, players can just cruise through them by leaving a thumb on the accelerator button. We know that arcade-style driving isn't exactly the most brain-taxing genre, but this is really mindless.
Further impeding any chances of getting really involved are the cars, which are small, scarcely animated and not really that different from one another. Only in the later stages will you notice the Type-Go's better handling (in other words, you won't have to let go of the accelerator that much on tight corners). For the most part, all you must do is stay on the track, look at the warning signs that flash at the bottom of the screen, and avoid the other cars. This bit is a spectacular pain, as all your opponents seem to do is home in on your location. Some would say that this is clever blocking. We just call it dumb and annoying.
And what of the much-heralded rumble feature? For something that adds five dollars to the sticker price, it really doesn't add much to the game. Because of the position of the rumble motors (behind the screen at the top of the Game Boy), you feel like the machine is pulling itself out of your hands whenever you crash. Thankfully, it can be turned off in an options menu.
Whereas V-Rally actually challenged your driving skills, Top Gear Pocket feels like a Sunday drive. We can't imagine anyone wanting to buy two games from this genre, so unless you're a massive rally fan, steer clear of this one.